One Poem by Jim Bennett

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

he hates writing poems

about grizzled loners
empty alleyways at night
cats that cry   run off
as lights explode
there’s no muse here
the rain is about to fall
glaze walls   clean pavements
it will soon be morning
he looks for a wall to paint
the spray can
in his pocket is nearly full
just one tag done
he hates writing poems
they fill his head with nonsense
you can see that
but he loves graffiti

 

Jim Bennett is a poet who was born in Liverpool in the UK a long time ago and is still alive (we think).

Two Poems by G B Ryan

Wrong Way

1
Baby elephants
among the heavy legs and padding feet 

over time will grow to lay the blame on
genes and home cooking

2
In New Bedford a large sign
indicating REDEMPTION
applies to bottles and cans

3
At fourteen years old or so,
her spine was curved in a way
that caused her to look down at
her feet as she walked along.

There is nothing wrong with her,”
the woman beside me said,
“she is only admiring
her new boots from Australia.”

4
Free thinker and friend of Voltaire,
Madame du Deffand responded
when asked if she believed in ghosts,
“No, but I am frightened of them.”


Take a Break, Stay Awake

1
She takes a photo of a cloud
shaped like an angel floating
over Manhattan because clouds
over New York territory
often assume crocodile shapes 

2
Radiating undulations,
a boat
makes ripples on the water

3
In a new stained glass window
a madonna holds a child
like an electric guitar

4
The sun high in the sky,
leaves whispering in breeze
and little birds singing . . .

Are you sure they were birds?

What else could they have been?

I don’t know. Just asking.

 

G B Ryan was born in Ireland and graduated from University College Dublin. He is a ghostwriter in New York City. Elkhound published his Who You Need to Start a Riot in May 2017. His poems are nearly all about incidents that involve real people in real places and use little heightened language.

One Poem by Ion Corcos

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

East Croydon

At first, I didn’t see any birds. Not on the grass,
the few trees outside our apartment,

or in the sky. When I walked the streets,
I saw dirty sheets in shop doorways,

a young woman selling The Big Issue outside Waitrose,
and people, lost, lying on the ground,

sometimes with a sign, sometimes with a tin,
drunk, or unloved.

When I came back to our apartment,
where we, too, were only staying a while,

I saw a gull in the distance,
and a crow, black, then night.

 

Ion Corcos has been published in The High Window, Australian Poetry Journal, Allegro, Panoply, and other journals. Ion is a nature lover and a supporter of animal rights. He is currently travelling indefinitely with his partner, Lisa. His first pamphlet, A Spoon of Honey (Flutter Press, 2018) is out soon.

Three Poems by Joan McNerney

Summer Solstice

Trees outline the
horizon in green lace.
Beneath boughs float
galaxies of blue bugs.

Listen to swish of
branches as cicadas
swell and swarm.
Hiding under shadow,
beating their wings,
hissing their mating calls.

Evening is coming . . .
the dawn of darkness.
We are suspended now
between light and shade.

Clouds rushing over heaven.
Sun drops from sky.
The air is fragrant with
sweet blooming jasmine
as star after star
sets nighttime on fire.


Shimmering

That summer I wanted to
take off all my clothes.
Be naked under the sun.
Tango all over warm grass,
so warm, warm.

Noontime perfumed berries
and lush grass. Beneath honey
locust through hushed woods
we found this spring,
a secret susurrus disco.

My feet began two-stepping
over slippery pebbles.
Threading soft water
the sun dresses us in
golden sequins.

Your hand reaches for me.


Keepsake

There are too many
clocks and not enough
time. I will take
and save this minute
for myself.

This minute
of mercury,
this swift night,
as sleepless stars
glide through
the sky in
aerial ballet.

 

Joan McNerney’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary zines such as Moonlight Dreamers of Yellow Haze, Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Blueline, Halcyon Days and is included in Bright Hills Press, Kind of a Hurricane Press and Poppy Road Review anthologies. She has been nominated four times for Best of the Net.

One Poem by Dennis DuBois

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Inner City Anomy

The old man walks down the empty streets
of the concrete jungle. High above,
streetlights cast star-like brightness, throwing
criss-crossing shadows down graffiti-strewn walls.
It is mild fall weather, breezeless. He places
one foot in front of another. Keep moving,
he tells himself, as he makes his way down
the late night alleyways of the inner city.

He is thinking of his dreams, how he doesn’t like
what his unconscious feeds him. He would prefer
to dream of someone, anyone, leaning over
to rest their hand on his shoulder, a tender kiss
behind the ear, a warm hand reaching out for his,
a kind voice. He argues for this because
he has not heard a kind word,
or been caressed for so long even his memory
of such events have faded into disbelief.

The old man walks alone, shoulders hiked,
hands tucked in pockets, eyes downcast.
He’s had a few, spoken to no one, now
on his way home where he will nod
on the couch, sleeping with his clothes on.
He is caught in a repetitive dream,
like watching a film of himself walking down
a neverending alleyway, going nowhere
in particular. He thinks he hears himself moaning,
a resistant wordless voice.

When he awakes, he realizes it is only
the persistent nagging of the street cat
he irregularly feeds. It takes more time
for his mind to clear, for him to figure out
where his is. Rumpled and grumpy, he takes
a swipe at the cat, chasing him
to hide away in a darkened corner.

A tear wells up for no discernible reason.
He wipes it away with his sleeve, rolling over
to bury his face in the couch corner, inevitably
returning to the walking dream.

 

Dennis DuBois holds a Master’s Degree in social work, and has worked to help others for decades, while writing poems along the way. He has published poems in Bee Museum, Curved House, The Projectionist’s Playground, Runcible Spoon, Verse News and Message in a Bottle. He is preparing a collection of poems and a first work of fiction. He is an American expatriate, living in Copenhagen.

Three Poems by Roy Adams

contentedly

by the mud-brick
house mending
the spread-out tunic
on her lap

short-clipped black
hair frames her round face
and dark eyes bright
as she sews she sees

the flow
flickering fast
over rocks hidden below
waves rippling past

a man in uniform
waving as he goes
on his way to where
there are other

glittering muses
muses how much longer
this one will be
mending


Rounding Third

Your mostly absent pop
builds you a soapbox buggy.
The handbrake works on flat,
not so well on hilly.
The street at block’s end starts
on top of a steep slant
with a crossroad at the bottom.
You plunge your crate.
Approaching flat, you yank,
keep going, flat out.
The two-ton truck
coming from your right
brakes stomped –
makes a murderous noise,
misses you by a nose.


Teach Yourself

From the high board, repeat rotations,
however undeserving.
Backflop, backflop, backflop,
backflop, backflop.
Finally, a full one. You head
for the water as you should but . . .
on a collision course with the previous jumper
who is, at this moment, floating to the surface.
Congratulations: you have serendipitously
invented a splashy routine for
cracking necks, crushing spines.

 

Roy Adams is a semi-retired Canadian professor who has been focused on poetry for the past six years. He has been published in a wide variety of literary magazines and anthologies in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere including: Vallum Contemporary Poetry, The Fiddlehead, Feathertale, Hamilton Arts and Letters, The Curious Element, Typishly, Tower Poetry and Eunoia Review.

One Poem by James Bell

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

erotica

all illusion is stripped back
though the street lamps placed high
above this alley sparkle
so bright in their attempts to be stars –
cannot – Van Gogh with a candle
on his hat for light would abhor
such artifice in his starry night
as his mind side-steps the demons
that harry his thoughts – high up
there is washing hung out for night drying
in the now cooling humidity
to replace a Prussian blue night sky –
and I too can be the solitary walker
head hung down with invisible concerns
who becomes the dull dun walls and
paving stones – their geometry sometimes
a blessing to hide in though mostly a curse
where most doors are closed – only two
retain any semblance of welcome
any sense of choice being available –
he has already walked by the faux tree
in a pot that props up a menu board
and has come alongside an alley on the left –
grey walls as background to graffiti below
a rusting roller shutter part pulled down
in its half-dark – some lettering above says
erotica in its usual lack of promise –
both the solitary walker and me as him
choose to keep our heads down and walk on

 

James Bell is Scottish and now lives in France. He has written and published poetry for twenty years. At present he is at work on his first short story collection.

Three Poems by Robert Beveridge

Aegagros, Bathing

“I am confused not knowing whether it is pornography/or beauty that is depicted on her raiment” — Ivan Argüelles, Opium (the perfume)

This landscape, its gentle hills
and light scrub                     draws

another moment this illicit
sketch of bodies, ferns
another few seconds will finish it

birds fly on, not trapped
in spiders’ webs
lie down, sleep
in the demented sadness
of licorice poppy fields

a shot in the distance

how the beautiful beautiful moonlight
flows down the mountainside
like tangles of bronze hair
that gleam blonde where caught by the moon

recent rain slick the brush drips
down from curls from branches
from swollen lips
that partake of plums and cream

what heat there is!
even in this blessed darkness
the temperature is too high

the hills, the hollows
wash themselves together
touch of moonlight sparkles
sends shards of light
into the landscape
kinetic, dynamic, tactile

what we all would give
to hold that light

it plays over you
o landscape
hills and mountains
and the glory of hair
and rain and bush
and swollen beauty


Preta

The sin-eater’s feast stretched
the entire banquet table before
you. Your fingers atoms away
from the barest morsel, infinity
never so close. Priest carves
a quince, pops a morsel
onto his tongue. You know
another homily is on its way.

How did it come to this? The cat
in the plastic, the rooms painted
with Vantablack, isolation speared
like a teriyaki swordfish on the end
of your cigarette. Douse the cherry
before it goes out the window,
only you can prevent forest
fires. Or maybe you didn’t.

You demand your one phone
call again — there must be
a Howard Johnson’s around here
that delivers — but again you are
denied. The priest opens
his thickest bible, settles
in to deliver another one
on Isaiah 58:10. The memory
of your belly growls in anticipation.


War Hero

The old man
picked up a swagger
when drunk,
an old war
hero remembering
what World War
Two was like.
“War,” he’d say,
“war is hell,
an’ you better pray,
boy, you
never have to fight
for your country.”
We never knew
his name, always
just called him hero.
He’d swagger around,
a beer-pirate with a mug
for a sword and memories
for a gun.
Continue reading “Three Poems by Robert Beveridge”

One Poem by Marc Carver

Enough

look
there it is
it is everywhere
but nobody looks too much
me I look
and sometimes I see
I can feel it too
the birds sing in Cantonese
a certain woman has a certain sweetness
the swirling white helicopters that
come from the lollipop flowers
sweep the garden
and all seems right with the world
just for a little bit
but it is
enough

 

Marc Carver has had some ten collections of poetry published and around two thousand poems published on the net but his worst fear is having to sit in a room filled with poets and listen to them reading their poems.

One Poem by Simon Leonard

Written in response to this month’s Special Challenge.

Coming Back as a Tourist

I know these streets from a derelict memory;
phantom ache of what I left behind.
Light spikes stab the diffuse gloom
joining dots to a foreign past.

I know the generations of stains on patient slabs;
the damp stone seems to sweat by night –
deep-breathed grime and blended urine.

I know, by morning, luminescent cleaners will arrive,
making it an acceptable transit to somewhere decent
for families;
maybe to a cathedral or museum,
or someone’s famous house.

They will allow for the rough graffiti
on the shutters of the local erotic palace;
be charmed by the bijou eatery,
and its sympathetic doorway shrubbery.

I know too well my circumstantial route
to the sparse hostal;
its owner shambles around the night
in heavy slippers.

Unlike the iron sinews of the streetlights
or shrugging shopfronts,
here I have no shadow.
Continue reading “One Poem by Simon Leonard”